Tension between Turkey and Cyprus over gas search

Tension between Turkey and Cyprus over gas search

Turkey, which does not have diplomatic relations with Cyprus, claims that certain areas in Cyprus's offshore maritime zone, known as an EEZ, fall into the jurisdiction of Turkey or that of Turkish Cypriots.

An ENI spokesman told The Associated Press that the Turkish warships told the rig not to continue because there would be military activities at its destination.

Cyprus insisted Turkey had breached "international law" by blocking the Italian drilling ship.

"We are handling the situation by trying to avoid anything that could worsen the situation without ignoring the fact that Turkey's actions are in breach of worldwide law", he added.

Italy is following the matter "at the highest level through its diplomats in Nicosia and Ankara. and following all possible diplomatic steps to resolve the question", the spokesman said.

Turkey opposes the drilling, saying it flouts the rights of the breakaway Turkish Cypriots to ethnically-split Cyprus' natural resources.

"The vessel has prudently executed the orders and will remain in position pending an development of the situation".

On Thursday, Cyprus said ENI and partner TOTAL of France had discovered a potentially sizeable gas deposit south of the island.

"The sole responsibility for any situation that could arise as a effect falls on the Greek Cypriot side, which, instead of expending efforts towards a just and lasting comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, persists in acting as though it were the sole owner of the island and in continuing its unilateral hydrocarbon-related activities", the statement said.

Cyprus's state radio reported senior officials from Eni would hold talks in Nicosia on Monday.

The island has been divided since 1974 when Turkish troops invaded and occupied its northern third in response to a coup sponsored by the military junta then ruling Greece.

The ministry said the sole responsibility for any situation that could arise as a outcome falls on the Greek Cypriot side, which, instead of expending efforts towards a just and lasting comprehensive settlement in Cyprus, persists in acting as though it were the sole owner of the island and in continuing its unilateral hydrocarbon-related activities.

The statement added the Greek Cypriot attitude was why settlement negoations had failed for the past fifty years.

The dispute over resources in the Mediterranean is another complicating factor in efforts to reunify the island after negotiations on the 44-year feud collapsed in acrimony last year.

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